Society News Now

ASCLS Reacts to Travel Ban Executive Order

"In light of the recent Executive Order on travel into the United States, I would like to assure the members of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science that the organization will continue to support, encourage and applaud the diversity of our members," said ASCLS President Suzanne Campbell. "We recognize the knowledge, talent and expertise of our colleagues world-wide. We support and encourage professional collaboration as we seek to provide leading edge laboratory services for our diverse patient population."

At its Fall 2016 meeting, the ASCLS Board of Directors adopted a policy in diversity and inclusion at the state and local level (included below), but the sentiments inform President Campbell's statement today.

ASCLS Policy on Discriminatory Laws and Statutes

The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) is an inclusive, culturally diverse organization of laboratory professionals that acknowledges the differences and unique characteristics of each member. ASCLS is committed to an inclusive environment where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.

Laws enacted by states and municipalities that are contrary to embracing diversity and inclusion are unacceptable. ASCLS joins with other organizations, groups, and businesses that condemn discriminatory laws as anathema to our fundamental belief of equality.

Where it has a choice, ASCLS will refrain from scheduling conferences and events, or making other investments in states and municipalities with discriminatory laws and statutes.

New, Updated Entry Level Curriculum

The updated versions of the Entry Level Curriculum for Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) and Entry Level Curriculum for Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) are available for purchase in the ASCLS Online Store.  We have a variety of formats available to meet your needs:

  • Institutional Licensed Versions
  • Single User Licensed Versions
  • Curricula for Individual Disciplines
  • Complete Set of MLS and MLT Curricula 

The MLS and MLT entry-level curricula (ELC) are defined as the knowledge and skills expected of a new graduate upon successful completion of a formal educational program.  The curriculum format is delineated by discipline area within the MLS and MLT levels.  

The ELC is designed to

  • Help develop the curriculum for a new program
  • Assist the new instructor/professor with course development
  • Update a current program or course

Some highlights of the updated versions include cross referencing within each publication, a new section on Molecular Diagnostics, and a combined section on Body Fluids and Urinalysis. 

Volunteer Opportunity Deadline is February 6th

Even though we are just half way through the society year, we are already looking forward to our next year that begins at the Annual Meeting in San Diego this summer.

Applications are now open for a number of volunteer opportunities that begin this spring as well as the national committee appointments for terms beginning in August.

The lifeblood of ASCLS is its volunteers whose talent, passion, insight, experience, effort and wisdom of is what powers the Society’s good work, amplifying the single voice of the laboratory science profession.

National volunteers on committees are critical to the achievement of the ASCLS mission, and grass roots members like you, who serve on them, are the people that GET THINGS DONE and help keep our organization moving forward.

ASCLS Representatives serve as the face of the Society to other organizations, such as the Board of Certification, the American Hospital Association and NAACLS. Serving ASCLS in one of these capacities allows you to have an influence within your professional organization which, in turn, sets the direction for the medical laboratory profession.

Diversity within the volunteer ranks makes ASCLS stronger. A mix of new and experienced professionals on all of the committees rejuvenate the organization with fresh ideas while those who have served ASCLS in various capacities over the years bring a wealth of institutional knowledge.

ASCLS utilizes an online system that matches volunteers with positions. Adding yourself to the volunteer pool is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Login to the ASCLS Connect Community and fill out your regular member profile.
  2. Review all of the open volunteer opportunities.
  3. Apply for the opportunities where you think you can make the biggest contribution.

Deadline for application on the current volunteer opportunities is Monday February 6th, but your profile will be used throughout the association year to fill other volunteer opportunities as they arise.

Speaking with One Voice, Laboratorians Convince VA to Change Rule

It is our great pleasure to inform you that the efforts you made to alert the VA to problems with the agency's proposed rule expanding the authority for APRNs to "perform and supervise" laboratory testing has met with success.

Tomorrow, the VA will publish the final personnel regulations in the Federal Register with changes ASCLS and its members pursued.

We have successfully convinced the VA to adjust the language to better protect patients while expanding access to care for our nation’s veterans. Further, the VA calls out the "crucial role" laboratorians play in the care of VA patients. The key language explaining this change is below (with our emphasis added).

“Several commenters stated that they were concerned with proposed § 17.415(d)(1)(i)(B), where we stated that a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) may order, perform, or supervise laboratory studies. The commenters stated that the proposed language does not “adequately appreciate the levels of complexity involved in laboratory testing” and that there are rigid standards for laboratory tests that require rigorous academic and practical training, which are not part of the training for APRNs. Another commenter stated, “While the VHA uses the word ‘interpret’ in reference to laboratory and imaging studies,” the commenter “…infers that the VA’s intent is to grant the ability for CNPs to interpret laboratory and imaging results, not to interpret or report raw images or data.” The commenter suggested that VA amend the term “‘interpret’ and recommends instead to use ‘integrate results into clinical decision making,’ or some other phrase” in order to avoid confusion between the duties of an APRN and those of a laboratory specialist. We agree with the commenter in that the proposed language might be construed as allowing CNPs the ability to perform laboratory studies. It is not VA’s intent to have APRNs take over the role of laboratory specialists. These specialists perform a crucial role at VA medical facilities and are skillfully trained in performing the various testing techniques that allow health care professionals to properly treat a veteran’s medical condition. We are amending proposed § 17.415(d)(1)(i)(B) to now state that a CNP may be granted full practice authority to ‘Order laboratory and imaging studies and integrate the results into clinical decision making.’”

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard and with so much passion to address this issue!

BOC, ASCLS, and ASCP Meet with CMS on Nursing Degree Equivalency Rule

The ASCP Board of Certification (BOC), American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) met on Sept. 27 with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in opposition to the Agency's April 1st declaration that a degree in nursing is equivalent to a degree in the biological sciences.

The groups representatives presented CMS with a petition, signed by more than 35,000 individuals opposed to CMS's degree equivalency policy. The petition drive was a community-wide effort led by ASCP and ASCLS to raise concern about CMS's policy that the nursing degree is equivalent to a biological sciences degree for purposes of doing non-waived laboratory testing under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988.

The Agency's action, outlined in an April 1 memo, could allow an individual with a bachelor's degree in nursing to perform high complexity testing. Per the CLIA regulations, individuals with a bachelor's degree in a chemical, physical, or biological science are not required to complete training prior to performing high complexity laboratory testing. The April memorandum provided no reasoning behind the decision.

During the meeting, agency officials stated that the memorandum reflected a long standing "internal policy" that had been developed to address concerns about a shortage of testing personnel at physician office laboratories in rural areas. These testing sites are not often staffed by qualified laboratory professionals, such as those individuals who may be certified by the BOC. In response, representatives from ASCP, ASCLS, and the BOC raised concerns about negative impacts on patient care and the need to ensure the accuracy and reliability of all laboratory test results.

In addition, laboratory representatives provided CMS with side-by-side comparisons of typical nursing degree programs and laboratory science programs, noting that nursing degrees fall far short of the scientific coursework required to earn a degree in the biological sciences. In its June 22 letter to CMS, the BOC Board of Governors articulated concerns that nursing degrees provide only a fraction of the scientific coursework required for a biological sciences degree and that what scientific coursework nursing programs do require does not approach the level of achievement involved in obtaining a biological sciences degree.

During the meeting, representatives cited comments received from their respective memberships, including those from several individuals who hold degrees in both nursing and the biological sciences that agreed that the nursing degree does not provide the scientific foundations necessary to perform non-waived laboratory testing reliably.

The Agency indicated that it understood and appreciated our concerns. Agency representatives also indicated that CMS will be working to address this issue, and that it is currently examining how best to implement a change in policy. CMS noted that fixing this issue may require the Agency to propose new regulations and that if such a change is required it will soon begin working on draft regulations.

ASCLS appreciates its invaluable, federated partnership with ASCP through the BOC that has allowed the laboratory community to speak with one voice. Together, we will be working with CMS to develop a solution and hope to report progress on newsworthy developments soon.

Attending the meeting were ASCLS Executive Vice President Jim Flanigan, CAE; ASCLS Executive Vice President Emeritus Elissa Passiment, EdM; ASCP Chief Executive Officer E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP)CM; BOC Executive Director Pat Tanabe, MPA, MLS(ASCP)CM; ASCP Chief Officer for Science, Technology and Policy Jeff Jacobs, MA; and ASCP Director for the Center for Public Policy Matthew Schulze.

To share your thoughts, visit the ASCLS Open Community or our Facebook page.